SBD/Issue 205/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Judge Allows General Motors To Shed Sponsorship Contracts

    Arnold Palmer Invitational Among 54
    Sponsorship Contracts Cut By GM

    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber yesterday allowed GM to "shed dozens of sponsorship deals and pricey perks that included VIP suites at international speedways, naming rights for a Lansing baseball stadium and Times Square billboards," according to Robert Snell of the DETROIT NEWS. The move "frees GM from spending millions on marketing, sponsorship and promotion-related agreements that did not directly relate to the automaker's core operations." GM cut 54 total contracts, but it was "unclear how much money the automaker ... will save." The list included "high-profile sponsorship deals" with the Raiders, the Univ. of Southern California and the PGA Tour Arnold Palmer Invitational. GM has "already ended high-profile sponsorship deals" with golfer Tiger Woods, filmmaker Ken Burns and a "host of events such as the Super Bowl and Academy Awards." Among the contracts that were terminated, retroactively effective on June 22, are the naming rights of Oldsmobile Park in Lansing, Michigan, for which GM agreed to pay $1.5M when it signed a 15-year contract in '95. GM is also ending a contract for the Chevrolet clock in Times Square -- where it has advertised since the '30s. Snell notes GM's marketing approach "got an overhaul last week after GM emerged from bankruptcy to focus on four core brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC." GM Communications Manager Kelly Cusinato: "You'll see that many of those we 'rejected' or chose not to carry forward involved retired brands or soon to expire GM brands or simply reflect the reality that the new, smaller, GM only has four brands to support. As for future spending and approach to sponsorships, it is too soon to predict." GM's marketing department is now headed by GM Vice Chair Bob Lutz, "who will be responsible for all creative elements of products and customer relationships." Lutz: "You will very quickly see a drastic change in the tone and content of our advertising" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/14). The following are some of the sponsorships that GM will drop as part of the judge's decision (THE DAILY).

    Bristol Motor Speedway Track Promotional Agreement With Pontiac
    City of Lansing, Michigan (Class-A Midwest League Lansing Lugnuts) Naming Rights To Oldsmobile Park
    Daytona Int'l Speedway Suite, Fan Zone Seats, Parking Passes
    Dover Int'l Speedway Suite, Seats With Suite Passes, VIP Parking Passes
    Grand-Am Road Racing Official Vehicle Sponsorship For Pontiac Brand
    IMG Worldwide Official Car Sponsorship
    Lowe's Motor Speedway Suite, Suite Tickets, Pit Passes, Parking Passes
    NHRA Promotional Agreement For Pontiac Brand
    Richard Childress Racing
    #31 With Jeff Burton
    Personal Service Agreement
    Richmond Int'l Raceway Suite, Pre-Race Pit Road Tour Passes, Parking Passes
    Ryan Newman Motorsports Sponsorship Agreement Service
    California Speedway Corporation
    (Auto Club Speedway)
    Suite, Suite Passes, Worker Passes, VIP Parking Passes
    Raiders Promotional Agreement
    USC Athletics Promotional Agreement

    BUILT FORD TOUGH: Ford Racing Technology Dir Brian Wolfe indicated that the manufacturer "drafted a slimmed down business plan under the company's new CEO Alan Mulally, and ... cuts were made to the racing budget -- last year." Wolfe: "For our part at Ford, our story hasn't changed a whole lot since the start of the season, other than we haven't won enough races. ... But we have kept our engineering support. That is really critical; that hasn't changed. The [Sprint] Cup teams, that we have long-term contracts with, have stayed the same.  We're pushing along with our plan." Wolfe said that Ford "does send money to certain Ford teams" at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series level. In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly noted Ford officials "think the new-car automobile market and economy will remain choppy through 2010 and this pesky recession will finally be over within 18 months." But even when things "turn around, Ford will keep a tight grip on budgets." Wolfe: "Every penny we spend, we want to make sure we're putting in the right place and get a return from that. Ford is predicting profits in 2011. There's still a ways to go" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/11).

  • What A Sign-Ing: Celeritas Management Acquires ANC Sports

    Investment firm Celeritas Management has purchased marketing and venue signage company ANC Sports, according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ANC President & CEO Jerry Cifarelli will remain in his position and retain a "minority stake." This deal marks the second sports acquisition for Celeritas, following the company's purchase of the Spanish Beisbol Network in September. ANC has 60 full-time employees and revenue of more than $60M, and Celeritas President & CEO Del Wilber said that he "sees many avenues for expanding ANC's businesses." Wilber: "They could really bridge the gap with some of their offerings, as far as that often-discussed melding of entertainment marketing and sports marketing. I see additional opportunities in collegiate venues, overseas, and even in non-sports venues, in places like shopping malls" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/13 issue).

  • Dana White Says EA Sports To Blame For MMA Videogame Dispute

    EA Sports Declines To Discuss
    Possibility Of UFC Videogame
    UFC President Dana White said that the organization had "hoped to join the ranks" of other sports as having a videogame created by EA Sports, but the gaming company "declined to discuss the possibility," according to John Morgan of White following Saturday's UFC 100 said that he is "'at war' with the popular video-game developers," and repeated that fighters who sign contracts to appear in EA Sports' upcoming MMA title "will find themselves out of the UFC's good graces." White: "I'm not tap-dancing around this thing or whatever. I'm telling you straight-up, I'm at war with them right now. That's how I look at it." White insisted that EA Sports "fired the first salvo in the still-developing controversy." White: "EA Sports told us, 'You're not a real sport. We wouldn't touch this thing. We want nothing to do with this.'" Morgan reported when EA Sports passed on the rights to UFC's videogame license, "rival software company THQ elected to partner" with the MMA organization to create "UFC Undisputed." White: "We put our asses on the line, THQ and the UFC, to make a video-game deal in the worst economy in the world. We go out there and do this thing, and it's successful, and now (expletive) EA Sports wants to do a video game. Really? That's not what you told us a year-and-a-half ago." White added that he has "made it clear that any fighter who signs over their likeness to the new project will be blacklisted from the UFC" (, 7/12).

    HOW IT WENT DOWN: UFC Chair & CEO Lorenzo Fertitta Saturday said, "When we had the opportunity to go out and build a video game who do you think the first people we called was? EA Sports. ... We sat in the room with them and I would have cut a worse deal just to be with EA Sports. I wanted them so bad. They looked at them and they told us they didn't think MMA was a sport. ... They said the UFC was irrelevant and that we were wasting their time." Fertitta added, "We went down the street and did a deal with THQ and they thought MMA was a sport. So we stick with the guys who stick with us. Now the UFC video game has been a massive success with three million copies sold. And guess what EA wants to do? They want to do an MMA game now." Fertitta added, "If you are [a] young fighter coming up, it just makes sense to stay under the umbrella of UFC companies, sponsors and marketing to ensure yourself a cut of the action for the rest of your life" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/12).

  • MLB Partners With New Dominican Complex During All-Star Week

    Puerto Bani Complex Will Include 25,000-Seat
    Ballpark, Two Golf Courses, Equestrian Center
    MLB is announcing today an All-Star Game-week sponsorship for the developers of a 4,000-acre residential complex in the Dominican Republic that will include a 25,000-seat ballpark along with two golf courses, an equestrian center and a polo field. The Puerto Bani complex will be on the Caribbean coast about 40 miles west of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. It is scheduled to open in '12. The developers get "Official Sponsor of 2009 MLB All-Star Week" designation in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. Puerto Bani will also serve as a participating sponsor at MLB All-Star FanFest, where it will sponsor a World Baseball Classic exhibit and host a youth baseball clinic. Under the deal, the Puerto Bani developers also get a spot in tonight's All-Star Game broadcast on Fox, where they will be one of five All-Star Game media sponsors using baseball-themed ads; the others are MLB corporate patrons Gillette, State Farm, Holiday Inn, Disney Films and Pepsi. MLB sponsor Taco Bell is using the Fox telecast to launch an unusual two-minute spot from agency DraftFCB. "Roosevelts," a parody of P Diddy's song "All About the Benjamins," will continue to air as a 30-second ad after its debut.

  • Marketplace Roundup

    SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Liz Mullen cites sources as saying that IMG's discussions with Arizona-based Gaylord Sports Management "have concluded with no deal." Sources said that IMG had been talking with Gaylord, which reps several golfers including Phil Mickelson, "about acquiring all or part of the business." However, golf -- "specifically Mickelson -- was the main attraction." Gaylord CEO Steve Loy in a statement said, "It is flattering to know our competitors think of us as being a value strategic partner but we are not for sale in whole or in part and IMG is not trying to buy us" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/13 issue).

    Ralph Lauren's Opening
    Ceremony Outfit Sketches
    DRESS FOR SUCCESS: In Colorado Springs, Brian Gomez reports Polo Ralph Lauren "will accent a navy blue-and-white Opening Ceremony outfit with touches of red" for U.S. athletes to wear at the '10 Vancouver Games. The USOC asked Polo Ralph Lauren to "incorporate more red into opening and closing ceremonies garbs and Olympic Village wear." Sketches of Olympic Village gear "have skiers wearing white jackets with blue collars and red stripes running from the shoulders to the wrists," while the chest "includes a USOC emblem on the right and Ralph Lauren's famous logo" on the left (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 7/14).

    TRIAL & TRIBULATION: In St. Paul, Sean Jensen reports the family of late Vikings OT Korey Stringer "won an important victory in federal district court Friday against equipment manufacturer Riddell." A federal district judge in Columbus said that Riddell had a "'duty to warn' Stringer that its helmets and shoulder pads could contribute to heatstroke when worn on hot days." A trial is "set to start Nov. 2, and the jury will determine whether Riddell is culpable for not warning Stringer" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/14).

    FASHION FIRST: Tennis player Caroline Wozniacki will represent the new fall/winter '09 adidas tennis collection by Stella McCartney. Wozniacki has been selected to become the exclusive new face of the tennis line and will be playing in apparel and footwear from the collection at all upcoming tournaments beginning with the U.S. Open (BEST).

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